Microsoft's AusCERT security lottery gets a laugh

For the second year in a row, Microsoft's Q&A session at AusCERT has been well worth attending -- but for the wrong reasons.Attendance at the session this year was well down compared to last year, when the same room was packed to the rafters.

For the second year in a row, Microsoft's Q&A session at AusCERT has been well worth attending -- but for the wrong reasons.

Attendance at the session this year was well down compared to last year, when the same room was packed to the rafters.

With so many people wanting to ask questions last year, many were left disappointed. So in its infinite wisdom, this year Microsoft decided to address the problem with a bingo-style system where attendees were given a number on entering the session.

If their number was chosen out of a hat, the lucky delegate would win a prize. Err. I mean they would be allowed to ask a question to the panel, which included George Stathakopoulos, the Redmond-based general manager of product security, and Peter Watson, Sydney-based chief security advisor.

Watson picked out the first number from the hat and everything seemed to be working well. Someone asked a question, it was answered and everyone was happy.

But then, in old-school Microsoft style, the system crashed.

Watson called out the second number and nobody responded. The same thing happened for the third, fourth, fifth ... and then I stopped counting.

After about a dozen numbers with no response, finally one person stood up and waved around their winning ticket. A relieved Microsoft rep went over to the "winner" and handed him a mic.

The delegate went a peculiar shade of white and looked confused.

"I didn't know I had to ask a question," he said, as the rest of the room exploded in laughter. Yes, the "winner" thought he would be walking away with a freebie.

After this incident the panel wisely chose to drop the bingo system and revert back to a traditional Q&A format.

Microsoft will have to come up with something pretty special next year to top this year's performance.

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